Tagged: Baseball 101

Finals 26 Baseball 101 questions are finally answered

With all the Giant news (Brian Wilson, Madison Bumgarner, etc.), we kind of got derailed from our Baseball 101 series.

So we’ll finish with a flurry, answering the final 26 questions from Mark Hermann’s 101 probing questions on baseball

76. What record is least likely ever to be broken?

Cy Young’s 511 career wins. Any pitcher hoping to break that mark would need to average better than 25 wins a season for 20 seasons. Since no one has won more than 24 in a season since Bob Welch won 27 in 1990, we’d say it’s a long shot.

77. Given that Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp had the highest WAR rating (a statistic measuring how much more he meant to his team than a hypothetical Triple-A replacement), shouldn’t he have been the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player?

Yes, he should have. But apparently you can’t be the MVP if your team doesn’t make the playoffs, even though that had more to do with the other eight players in the lineups for Brewers (team of MVP Ryan Braun) and the Dodgers than anything Braun and Kemp accomplished.

78. Why is stealing signs from the bases or dugout considered part of the game, while peeking from the batter’s box to see the catcher’s signal is considered cheating?

Because there are a lot of baseball traditions and rituals that don’t make a whole bunch of sense.

79. Is it fair game to call for a squeeze play in the ninth inning of an exhibition game?

Yes, and it’s also fair game for the catcher to knee the sliding runner in the groin while covering home plate.

80. What is the bigger obstacle to the Orioles snapping their 14-year streak of losing records: their ownership or their brutal division competition?

Ownership. The only way the O’s keep up is by drafting and developing quality young players (like the Rays) or spend on free agents (like the Yankees and Red Sox).

81. Are six Mets-Yankees games every season three too many?

Yes. Same is true for other regional interleague rivals. Three is plenty. And I’m sorry, but why do the Mariners and Padres play six times every year?

83. When the Astros move to the American League next season and there is an interleague game every day, will interleague play cease to have whatever special appeal it does have?

No loss of appeal when there is no special appeal to interleague play except when regional rivals play each other.

84. How often will Nationals manager Davey Johnson be asked to compare Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper to Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry?

Once, if Johnson answered the question with “Strasburg and Harper never smoked crack.”

85. Why do they rub mud on every major-league baseball? (Hint: check out baseballrubbingmud.com).

To allow pitchers to get a better grip on the ball.

86. Should Major League Baseball shut down for a couple weeks at midseason to allow for the World Baseball Classic, as the NHL does for the Olympics?

Absolutely not.

87. Does Marvin Miller belong in the Hall of Fame for the way he revolutionized baseball through collective bargaining?

Absolutely yes.

88. With statistical and video analysis having become so sophisticated, what does the future hold for bird-dog scouts?

No amount of stats or video will replace having a real set of eyes on a player to assess all the intangibles.

89. Fenway Park is celebrating its centennial season this year, but is it time for a new park in Boston? (A plan in 1999 that proposed a new stadium was scrapped.)

No. It’s fine just the way it is.

90. Who has more influence in baseball than agent Scott Boras?

Yankees owner Hank Steinbrenner. Boras’ influence would be negated if there weren’t an idiot with an open checkbook willing to give him everything he wants.

91. Is it fair that teams compete for the same wild-card spots when they play considerably different schedules?

Not really, but that’s what the one-game wild-card playoff should help fix (actually, we’d like to see a best-of-3 series).

92. Why, 51 years after Hal Richman introduced the Strat-O-Matic baseball board game, do middle-aged men still drive to Long Island from as far as Ohio and Ontario to buy the new season’s cards?

They don’t have wives or girlfriends .. or a computer for that matter.

93. Who was the best athlete ever to play professional baseball: Jim Thorpe, Bo Jackson, Michael Jordan or someone else?

Bo Jackson.

94. What sort of mentor will the new, outgoing Manny Ramirez be to A’s teammate Yoenis Cespedes, the heralded free agent from Cuba?

Well, if the A’s want center fielder Cespedes to learn how to make a lunging cut-off of a throw from the right fielder to the second baseman, a great one.

95. If you didn’t know Dodger Stadium will turn 50 on April 10, how old would you say the sparkling place looks?

I’d say about 25 years old. It’s still looks great, but it’s design clearly predates the trend of retro-style ballparks started in the 1990s by Camden Yards.

96. What makes Vin Scully stand out among announcers, even now, in his 63rd season?

Well, for one, he’s Vin FREAKIN’ Scully. That ought to be enough. As a Giants fan, who grew up listening to Vin Scully, there’s none better.

97. Can any full-time, big-salaried player do worse than Adam Dunn’s .159 batting average in 2011?

No, because the Giants, and then the Marlins, released Aaron Rowand.

98. Other than your favorite team, who has the best uniforms?

The Baltimore Orioles. Not sure why. Maybe it has something to do with the black-and-orange combination.

99. What chance does Kansas City have of ending a 26-year playoff drought (the longest of any city in the bigs, considering the Expos/Nationals have split their 30-year hiatus between two hometowns)?

This year, slim to none. But if they continue to develop young players and make some smart free agent signings, they could contend in the next couple of years. Every team but the Royals have won the division since 2007.

100. Which team was the greatest in baseball history?

The 1927 New York Yankees

101. Who’s on first?

Yes, we know.

15 more Baseball 101 questions answered (No. 60-75): Diving into first, OPS, best rotation

We got derailed a bit by Buster Posey’s shingles and Tim Lincecum’s haircut.

But we continue with answering Baseball 101 questions posed by Mark Hermman of Newsday:

61. With the Wilpons having received good news in the Madoff settlement, when can Mets fans look forward to good news about the ballclub?

2014, by then very costly contracts will have expired, giving the team all sorts of flexibility.

62. How would The Boss have responded to having spent nearly $2 billion on payroll during the past 11 years and winning only half as many titles as the Red Sox and Cardinals?

By spending another $2 billion.

63. Why do players sometimes dive into first base when studies show it is quicker to run?

Ignorance. Perhaps they should spend time watching Usain Bolt run the 100 meters and notice who he doesn’t do a head-first slide across the finish line.

64. Is the total of on-base percentage and slugging percentage the best measure of a hitter’s value?

OPS is a useful, simple tool. But slugging’s heavy weight on home runs lets OPS tell us that it’s better to have a .200 hitter who belts a ton of homers than a light-hitting .300 hitter. Good news for Dave Kingman and Rob Deer, not good news for Ichiro Suzuki and Tony Gywnn. That’s why we like wOBA (weighted on base average), which levels the field a bit better.

65. Can a team possibly get anything close to an equal return if it trades Babe Ruth, Tom Seaver or any other icon at his peak?

It is possible, if the team gets a couple of prospects back who bloom into superstars. But the odds are long, and the team trading the icon at his peak is usually burned.

66. Will Derek Jeter eventually move to another position or will he just retire when he can’t play shortstop anymore?

With 3,000 hits and five World Series rings in his possession, we’re guessing he’ll retire when he can’t play shortstop anymore.

67. Is it a good idea to expand rosters to 40 on Sept. 1 or is it unfair to have minor-leaguers in big games?

It’s totally unfair. It completely changes the game. For five months, managers juggle lineup decisions, pinch-hitting and double-switches, with the limitation of having a bench the generally is comprised of five players. Then suddenly in September they don’t have to worry about that stuff as they have almost an endless supply of bench players, by comparison. In 2010, during the Giants playoff push to the World Series, they called up Darren Ford, a speedy outfielder who couldn’t hit a lick. But he could run and field. He appeared in seven September games, six as a pinch-runner. He did not have a plate appearance, but stole two bases and scored one pivotal run that helped the Giants win a key game. I understand the desire to take a look at some prospects and the need to provide roster depth late in the season when players are getting fatigued. But 40 players is too many; 30 would be better.

68. In the draft, should you go with the most talented player no matter what his age is, or play it safe and take a college guy?

Depends on your situation. If you’re a contending or hopeful team that needs a piece filled on your roster in a year or two, a college guy is the better choice. But if you have a very good team with few immediate needs or a young team that is years away from contending, a high school player may be the right pick.

69. Why is there caterwauling every year about which players aren’t chosen for the All-Star Game, followed by complaining that the game is meaningless?

The All-Star Game is all about honoring the best players. So there is a lot of debate about who are the best and most deserving players. But once the roster has been set, then the game itself is just an exhibition and it shouldn’t matter who wins.

70. Billy Martin or Joe Torre . . . Gil Hodges or Davey Johnson.

Torre. Martin was a nutbar. Johnson. Hodges was a Dodger, which is worse than being a nutbar.

71. In 1972, there were nine African-American starters in the All-Star Game. In 2011, there were four. In 1964, the Cardinals had four African-American players in the lineup for Game 7 of the World Series. In Game 7 of 2011, the Cardinals had none. Sixty-five years after Jackie Robinson’s breakthrough, how can baseball again attract top black athletes?

Continue to develop inner-city youth baseball programs. Developing baseball skills takes time and money. The best American-born players today have extensive experience with camps, clinics and travelling teams. These cost money.

72. Has a player ever presented a more honest question to a sitting President than when Babe Ruth, upon being introduced to Calvin Coolidge on a sultry Washington day, said: “Hot as hell, ain’t it, Prez?”


73. Where does Citi Field’s Shake Shack rate among the best ballpark concessions, and what else is on the short list?

Never been to Citi Field, so couldn’t say. But I’d say any list should start and finish with Gilroy garlic fries.

74. Should you sell your Honus Wagner baseball card now or hold on to it?

Sell it now. The trading card market peaked about 20 years.

75. Who has the best starting rotation in baseball? (Fangraphs.com lists the Angels first).

Well, given that Barry Zito — the weak link of the Giants’ roation — just threw a four-hit shutout in Coors Field, it’s got to be the Giants.

15 more Baseball 101 questions answered: Nos. 46-60, Ryan Braun, 30-game winners, anatomy of a curveball

Here are 15 more answers to questions about baseball posed by Mark Hermann of Newsday.

46. Given that starting pitchers do not go as deep into games as they did 40 years ago, why is it unthinkable that they work on three days of rest, as they did back then?

Pitchers today put more stress on their arms than they did 40 years ago. They pitch harder, with more sliders and split-fingered pitches. Also, teams today invest millions in their pitchers. In 1966, when the Dodgers lost Sandy Koufax to arm problems, it cost them one of the best pitchers in the game. Today, a similar injury would cost them one of the best pitchers in the game and millions and millions of dollars in guaranteed salary.

47. Which is the better mascot, Mr. Met or the onetime Mets dog Homer?

Since I didn’t know the Mets even had a dog mascot named Homer, I will go with Mr. Met. (And I know Newsday is a New York publication, but enough with New York questions).

48. Who was the best-fielding first baseman: Vic Power, Wes Parker, Keith Hernandez, Don Mattingly or someone else?

Keith Hernandez

49. How would it have worked out for each side, and for each player’s legacy, if the Yankees and Red Sox really had pulled off that fabled trade of Joe DiMaggio for Ted Williams?

As the deal is said to have occurred in 1947, the Yankees would have gone on to win eight World titles over the next 12 years, and the Red Sox would not win a World title for another 57 years … Oh, wait. …. As for individuals, Ted Williams would have been one introduced as “the greatest living baseball player” in retirement, instead of DiMaggio. But the biggest winner would have been Mickey Mantle, who would have never torn up his knee trying to avoid getting out the way of Ted Williams trying to catch a fly ball.

50. Who was the fastest player you’ve ever seen, going from first to third?

Deion Sanders

51. It’s been 43 years since the last 30-game winner (Denny McLain, 31-6 in 1968). Will anyone win 30 again?

No, not when pitchers today make only 33-35 starts a season.

52. Is Ryan Braun truly “innocent” or simply “not guilty” because of a technicality?

“Not guilty” because of a technicality.

53. Why is Opening Day in baseball such a special occasion? (Cincinnati has scheduled a pregame downtown parade for the 93rd year.)

Because baseball is every day (or just about) for six months. It is a long journey and the start should be celebrated. The NBA opener almost catches you by surprise in late October. The NFL opening week is cool. But after your team plays, you have to wait week for another game. In baseball, there’s a game the next day (or at least there should be without the influence of TV), and the next day, and the next day.

54. What will the next wave of new stadiums look like? Specifically, a half-century from now, will there be a retro movement to replicate Shea, Veterans, Three Rivers and Riverfront Stadiums?

No there won’t be a retro movement to replicate those multi-purpose, cookie-cutter facilities. They were ugly when they were built and the only bit of nostalgia that bring smiles to the faces of baseball fans related to those stadium are the images of when they were imploded.

55. How should baseball honor Roberto Clemente for having opened so many doors for Latin American players?

Celebrar un Día de Roberto Clemente en cada uno de los estadios cuando todos los anuncios son en español.

56. Who would you want in Game 7: Bob Gibson or Sandy Koufax?

Sandy Koufax

57. What actually makes a curveball curve, and how much of it is an optical illusion?

According to a University of California Davis study, when the spin of the ball rotates in the direction it is thrown, the stitching on the ball gathers up air as the ball rotates, creating higher air pressure on one side of the ball. The higher pressure forces the ball in the direction of the lower pressure, and the ball curves.

58. Now that Banner Day is back, which, if any, of these baseball arti- facts is worth reviving: doubleheaders, Astroturf, organ music, Bat Day?

Doubleheaders, definitely doubleheaders. And not these day-night, split-admission doubleheaders … hear that, you money-grubbing owners.

59. How many current big-leaguers know what “playing pepper” means, and how much are they missing by not playing that old hand-eye coordination game?

I’m guessing not many. When I was a kid and saw the “No pepper” signs around the ballpark, it had to explained to me. And judging by the talent on the players on the field, I don’t think they’re missing anything.

60. If baseball is ever forced to adopt a contraction plan and fold two franchises, which teams should go?

The Pittsburgh Pirates. I’m all for tradition and the Pirates go way back. But 20 years without a winning season — a period that included a brand-new beautiful ballpark opening — is downright ridiculous.

And the Oakland Athletics. Any team that thinks it needs to horde in on the Giants’ territory to survive should be contracted.

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 1-15

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 16-30

Baseball 101 answers to questions No. 31-45

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 61-75 — COMING SOON

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 76-90 — COMING SOON

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 91-101 — COMING SOON

Baseball 101: Questions Nos. 31-45 answered; Larsen or Haddix, Rose vs. Fosse, greatest collapse

Our series of the 101 thought-provoking baseball questions, supplied by Mark Hermann of Newsday, continues:

31. Which is the better performance: Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series or Harvey Haddix’s 12 innings of perfection in 1959?

Hmmm. I debated this one for a while. Originally, I thought Haddix, because 36 up and 36 down seemed more impressive than 27. But I’m going to have to say Larsen’s perfecto. Why? It was in the World Series. It’s the only perfect game in World Series history. It’s the only no-hitter in the series history. Up until 2010, it was the only postseason no-hitter. The last time there was even a one-hitter in the Series was in 1967. The last time someone took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in a Series game was 1969.

32. Pete Rose taking out Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star Game, and ruining Fosse’s career: Good hustle or unnecessary excess?

Neither. I’ve watched a replay of this play many times. And it appears to me that Rose is running hard to score. As he approached the plate, it looks like he was thinking about going into a head-first slide then changes his mind. You knows, maybe the third-base coach is telling him he doesn’t have to slide. Anyway, that indecision led Rose to stumble a bit into the plate. The throw from center was to Fosse’s left, which drew him right into the base path, and a collision ensued. I don’t think it was intentional. You have to remember that a home-plate collision also puts the runner at risk, and the only time to wants to collide with the catcher is if he feels as if the throw will beat him to the plate. In this case, Rose had the throw beaten. An unintended collision with an unfortunate result for Fosse. Take a look for yourself.

33. Should a pitcher be eligible to win the Most Valuable Player award or should that be reserved for an everyday player because pitchers have the Cy Young Award?

Sure a pitcher should be eligible. But I would not vote for one for MVP. I think the impact an everyday player has on the season is greater than for a player who appears in maybe 34 of 162 games.

34. Who was the best hitter: Felipe, Matty or Jesus Alou?

Felipe Alou. He hit 206 HRs, more than three times the number of his brothers combined. And he played longer, too.

35. Who is the best catcher: Bengie, Jose or Yadier Molina?

Yadier Molina. Better catcher, thrower, hitter and DEFINITELY, runner

36. Should baseball expand the use of instant replay to review close plays on the bases?

Only on plays at the plate … and maybe at first base when a pitcher is going for a perfect game in the ninth inning with Jim Joyce working the bag.

37. The knuckleball has historically proven to be an effective pitch. So why is R.A. Dickey of the Mets the only starter in the major leagues now using it?

Because it’s so darn hard to control effectively.

38. Why does spring training have so much more allure than training camp in the other sports?

Three reasons. 1) When it falls in the calendar. Spring training signals the hope of sunnier, warmer days of spring and summer after a long cold winter; 2) Because of the minor league system, spring training offers fans the chance to get a look at younger players who may be the stars of the future; 3) because of the 162-game schedule, everyone on the 25-man MLB roster has value, so battles for the last roster spots are intriguing. Who cares who is the 12th-man on an NBA roster or who is the third-string pulling guard on an NFL team?

39. Which was the greatest collapse, the 1964 Phillies, 2007 and/or 2008 Mets, 2011 Braves or 2011 Red Sox?

Gotta go with The Phold. Six-and-a-half games up with 12 to play, then go out and lose 10 straight including seven in a row at home? Doesn’t get much worse than that.

40. Where is the best place for youngsters to get autographs?

Between the dugout and foul pole during batting practice.

41. Will baseball ever go the way of the NBA and allow loud music during the actual playing of the game, rather than just during breaks?

No. A battle charge or the playing La Cucaracha will suffice, thank you very much. Also baseball will not institute laser-light shows during announcement of starting lineups, confetti showers after wins or allowing teams to advance a runner to third base automatically after calling timeouts late in the game.

42. Which is the better fantasy baseball format: Head-to-head or roto?

Well, if you want the owners with the best player to win, roto is best. But for entertainment and engagement between owners, head-to-head is better. The best option is for a league that uses both formats.

43. With the hundreds of Tommy John surgeries having been performed since the first one in 1974, why has no pitcher, according to ESPN The Magazine, won more games after the operation than Tommy John himself (164)?

Because then they would have to rename the surgery.

44. What is the best baseball novel ever written?

I’m a baseball blogger. I don’t read books!?!? Well, um, I’ll say “Bang the Drum Slowly” because it’s got a good plot and I can dance to it.

45. What is the best baseball biography ever written?

“Cobb” by Al Stump, because I’ve actually read it. Besides, maybe one of the most interesting characters of the game.

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 1-15

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 16-30

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 46-60

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 61-75 COMING SOON

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 76-90 COMING SOON

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 91-101 COMING SOON

Baseball 101: More answers to questions baseball fans are pondering, Nos. 16-30

Part II of MoreSplashHits answering thought-provoking questions about baseball provided by Mark Hermann of Newsday.

16. Does team chemistry promote success, or does success translate into team chemistry?

Success translates into team chemistry. Baseball history is littered with teams comprised of players who couldn’t stand each other. But winning cures all ills.

17. Did Babe Ruth really “call his shot” in the 1932 World Series against the Cubs?

Yes and no. Ruth was trash-talking with the Cubs, and I’m sure he said something like “throw it over the plate and I’ll hit it out.” And then he did. But did he take his bat and point to where he was going to hit it out. No.

18. What would baseball look like today if the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York City agreed on either the Dodgers’ plan to build a stadium at Atlantic Yards (site of the new Barclays Center) or Robert Moses’ plan to build the team a home in Flushing (site of Shea Stadium/Citi Field)?

If the Dodgers had remained in Brooklyn/New York, the Giants would have left for Minneapolis, which was the plan before the Dodgers’ move to LA made San Francisco a more attractive destination. The Washington Senators would have then moved to San Francisco to join the expansion LA Angels in 1961. Then instead of being a lifelong Giants fan, MoreSplashHits might have been a San Francisco Ex-Senators fan (Seals, maybe?). Instead of admiring the likes of Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, I might have admired Harmon Killebrew and Tony Olivo. And because I attended my first MLB game in San Francisco in 1973, soon after the adoption of the designated hitter rule, I might have thought that’s the way the game is supposed to be played and had my baseball perspective corrupted at a very young age. Oh, the horror! So, thanks Dodgers for moving to LA.

19. What is the best way to break in a new glove?

Play catch with it over and over and over again.

20. Why didn’t the Giants ever win when they played at Candlestick Park, and was it smart for them to have moved there from New York?

They did win, posting winning seasons in their first 14 years in San Francisco. They just didn’t win it all. But the Stick was hardly to blame for that. They only captured one world title in their last 24 seasons in New York. Was it smart to move from New York? Absolutely. After failing to draw 1 million fans in five of their last six seasons in the Polo Grounds, the Giants drew at least 1.2 million in each of their first 10 season in San Francisco including eight at the Stick.

21. Which is the better way to determine home-field advantage in the World Series: by whichever league wins the All-Star Game, or by the previous method of having the National League host in even-numbered years and the American League host in odd-numbered years?

The previous method. The current method is beyond moronic.

22. What is the best baseball town in America?

St. Louis.

23. Have the Cubs been held back and worn out all these years by playing so many day games at home?

Well, that … and all those years of sucking.

24. Will there always be a designated hitter rule and will it ever be universal, throughout both leagues?

Yes, unfortunately, to the first part. After 40 years in existence it is too entrenched in the AL to go anywhere. Will it be universal? No. Because it’s just as entrenched against in the NL, where they still play the pure game.

25. Which is better, Stickball or Wiffle ball?

Wiffle ball. You can play it anywhere.

26. As much as Citi Field is an upgrade, in what ways was Shea Stadium better?

The Beatles played at Shea.

27. Same thing with the new Yankee Stadium: As nice and spacious as it is, what do you miss about the old place?

Affordable ticket prices.

28. Babe Ruth shaped modern baseball, so should his No. 3 be retired by all teams?

No. Ruth shaped baseball. But he didn’t help shape society.

29. What was the most important postseason hit of all time? (Remember, Bobby Thomson’s Shot Heard ‘Round the World was technically a regular season home run).

Bill Mazeroski’s game-winning home run in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series.

30. “Moneyball” was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, so is it the best baseball movie ever? And if not, what was?

Well, as I have not seen Moneyball I can’t say it’s the best baseball movie. But I have a hard time seeing it surpass “Bull Durham.”

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 1-15

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 31-45

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 46-60

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 61-75 COMING SOON

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 76-90 COMING SOON

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 91-101 COMING SOON

Baseball 101: MoreSplashHits answers thought-provoking questions Nos. 1-15

Mark Hermann of Newsday wrote a piece entitled “Baseball 101” which features 101 unanswered questions that are offered to “provoke thought, debate, understanding and amusement.”

Well, MoreSplashHits can’t leave questions unanswered. So over the next week, we’ll be providing answers these unanswered questions.

So here we go.

1. Will Barry Bonds ever get into the Hall of Fame?

Yes. It may take a while, but the writers will eventually come around. We would project that next year, Bonds’ first on the ballot, he’ll pull in around 30-40 percent. That number will increase as the years go by and writers figure out that they can’t solve the sins of the past through their vote. You can’t pin the steroid era on one, two or a small handful of players. It was a far-reaching issue, the scope of which we may never fully understand. All you can do is treat it as an era, like the Dead Ball era, the era of offensive explosion of the late 1920s and early 1930s, the pitching dominated 1960s. Adjust the numbers for the era, then decide if the resume matches up. In Bonds’ case, it clearly does.

2. The same for Roger Clemens: Will he get in someday? And for both of them, should they get in?

Clemens’ path figures to follow a similar path as Bonds. He’ll eventually get in. And should they. Absolutely. They aren’t being canonized for sainthood. They are being judged as one of the greatest players of all time. And they are.

3. How about Pete Rose? Does he remain barred from the Hall because he bet on baseball?

Put him in. I think as one of his last acts as commissioner, Bud Selig will be to drop the ban on Rose. Once that’s done, Rose get voted in rather quickly, having served more than 20 years in limbo. His crime, at the time of his ban, was serious one. But with the explosion of salaries and millions upon millions of dollars players are making, do we really think gamblers are going to overtake the game?

4. Will the expanded playoff format mean we never again will see an immensely exciting final day, as we had at the end of the 2011 season, or will it finally restore a true pennant race feeling?

Sure we will. By opening up more chances for teams to make playoffs you open up the possibility of more races for those playoff spots. And the single-game playoffs themselves will create more excitement. This expanded format will create more excitement than it will prevent. Just watch.

5. Mariano Rivera is generally considered the best relief pitcher of all time. So who is second?

Dennis Eckersley.

6. Considering that players are bigger, stronger and faster than ever, and that equipment has grown much more advanced, why is it that 90 feet is still just the right distance from home to first to ensure lots of close plays?

Because everyone has developed. Hitters have developed, pitchers have developed, fielders have developed. The game has evolved proportionally, just as it should.

7. Which is harder to do: win 20 games or hit 50 home runs?

50 home runs. Since 2008, only one player has hit 50 home runs in a season — Toronto’s Jose Bautista who hit 54 in 2010. Since 2008, there have been 10 20-game winners.

8. When is it safe to allow a young person to start throwing a curveball?

15 years old.

9. What is the precise difference between “command” and “control?”

“Control” is the ability to throw strikes. “Command” is the ability to throw strikes, and not throw strikes, exactly where and when you want.

10. Who is the best all-around player (non-pitcher) in the history of the game?

Willie Mays. Next question.

11. And the best pitcher ever?

For peak value, Sandy Koufax.

12. Is the sacrifice fly really a legitimate statistic? (The batter wasn’t intentionally trying to give himself up.)

Absolutely. All you have to do is watch how many times the Giants strike out with a runner on third base and fewer than two outs to know that.

13. How should Jose Reyes have handled the final game of the 2011 regular season when he was trying to win the National League batting title?

He should have played the final game, weenie.

14. How many games will Andy Pettitte start for the Yankees this season?

15 … 20 if he takes a little HGH

15. Which is better, Baseball Tonight on ESPN or MLB Tonight Live on the MLB Network?

MLB Tonight. It’s on longer. Baseball Tonight goes for 30 minutes. MLB Tonight goes on for hours, and you get those live look-ins.

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 16-30

Baseball 101 answers to questions No. 31-45

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 46-60

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 61-75 — COMING SOON

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 76-90 — COMING SOON

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 91-101 — COMING SOON